June is proving to be a blockbuster month in the world of flat racing, with the Oaks and the Derby recently taking place at Epsom Downs over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend and attention is turning to Royal Ascot — as the prestigious meeting is due to take place at the Berkshire course between 14-18 June.
The action doesn’t stop there though, as over on the other side of the Irish Sea the Curragh is gearing up to host another major meeting at the end of the month — with the Irish Derby Festival taking centre stage at the County Kildare-based racecourse on the final weekend of June (24-26).
The Irish Derby itself will be held on June 25th, and with horses having exactly three weeks to recover from the British equivalent, you can expect plenty of Irish runners who competed at Epsom to reappear at the Curragh for a crack at landing their connections the hefty €570,000-winning prize purse.
That said, the market is beginning to shape ahead of the one-mile, four-furlong contest. So, read on as we take a look at some of the favourites in the latest betting odds.
Riding in the iconic colours of Juddmonte Stud, made famous by the legendary Frankel and Enable, Westover is the current favourite for the Irish Derby at a very short-price of 15/8.
The Ralph Beckett-trained horse has never finished outside the top three in his races under rules, winning on his debut at Sandown last August before rounding off his two-year-old season with back-to-back second-place finishes at Newbury and Pontefract.
He started this campaign with a victory in the Group 3 Classic Trial back at Sandown, beating Cash by a shorthead, and he finished a very respectable third from 25/1 in the Derby earlier this month — which could have been bettered had he not been denied a clear run-in.
A deserved favourite at this stage and could take all the beating at the Curragh.
Well backed in the build up to the Derby, especially as Aidan O’Brien landed his 41st British Classic with Tuesday in the Oaks on the day before, Changingoftheguard could fare no better than fifth in the Epsom contest — over nine lengths behind eventual winner Desert Crown.
The master of Ballydoyle has a fine record as a handler in this race though, with a record 14 victories, and he’ll be hoping that his three-year-old can turn out better at the Curragh than he did at Epsom.
Changingoftheguard has displayed some fine form before the Derby, winning a maiden on the all-weather at Dundalk back in April before beating Charlie Appleby’s highly-rated New London by over six lengths for his first win on turf in the Group 3 Chester Vase last month.
There’s reason to believe he can bounce back, and 9/2 is a tempting price.
A disappointing runner in the Derby from O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stables, Stone Age was expected to give Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Crown a run for his money — setting off as the second favourite at 7/2.
However, after sweating a lot at the start it soon became clear that the three-year-old would have no chance in the race. Pushed along three furlongs out before edging left, Stone Age weakened in the closing 200 metres and dropped back to sixth.
His maiden victory at Navan on his reappearance in March and his Group 3 Derby Trial triumph at Leopardstown are perhaps proof that he can make more of an impression at the Curragh, but that run at Epsom might just have planted a seed of doubt with punters.
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